High Resolution Record Number 1
I've been recording and producing high-resolution records since April of 2000. To date, I have completed almost 100 projects in a wide variety of genres. I have plenty of classical tracks, instrumental and vocal jazz, bluegrass and a few rock/pop records. AIX Records, the label that I started back in 2000, is focused on producing and releasing the highest quality recordings regardless of the musical genre. There's not a lot of music that I don't enjoy.
The catalyst for my label was the arrival of a couple of new distribution formats…DVD-Audio and SACD. This was back in 1999 just a couple of years after the introduction of the DVD-Video format. AIX Media Group, my production company, produced and authored the first four DVD-Video titles released in the U.S. in the spring of 1997 and for 5 days we had a monopoly on DVD software. The venerable CD format was getting close to 20 years old and the record and consumer electronics companies were looking for the next step in physical media.
The first out of the box was the Super Audio Compact Disc format, the brainchild of Sony and Phillips. They had submitted their 1-bit DSD encoding scheme to the DVD Forum in the hopes that they would continue to control the intellectual property (and royalty stream) for pre-recorded media after the death of CDs, but their format was rejected in favor of PCM audio packed into smaller compartments using Meridian Lossless Packing (which is now Dolby TrueHD).
But being rejected wasn't the end of the story for DSD, Sony and Phillips developed SACD to compete with the DVD Forum's DVD-Audio format. Another format war was launched…although nobody really cared. Both formats failed to attract a wide audience and failed. There were about 5000 DVD-Audio titles developed and about 9000 SACD releases. Many, if not most, of the "high-resolution" or "advanced resolution" releases were remixed and remastered from the archives of the major labels. In fact, no more than 16% of the SACD are actually new native DSD projects while twice that number, or around 35% of the DVD-Audio titles were new recordings in high-resolution.
Confusion reigned among audiophiles during the early days of high-resolution audio. Battles raged between advocates for both formats (and still do!). Music fans were curious but they hesitated because of the necessity to purchase new hardware and the lack of software. And the labels were also reluctant because the cost of repurposing an album into a DVD-Audio project could run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars. Queen's "A Night At The Opera" cost over a quarter of a million dollars…and didn't recoup the investment.
My problem was different. I didn't have a catalog of multichannel masters to mix into 5.1 and release on DVD-Audio or SACD. But I recognized the opportunity and AIX Records was born. I knew that someone had to make new recordings using high-resolution equipment in order to demonstrate the amazing fidelity that the new formats could achieve. So in April of 2000, I booked a large chamber music auditorium in downtown Los Angeles, loaded my Euphonix R-1 high-resolution recording gear into the space and recorded Brahms Piano Quintet in F Minor, op 34 as performed by the Ives String Quartet and featuring pianist Delores Stevens.
AIX Records was launched. Our first project was behind us.
About the Author
Mark Waldrep, Ph.D. is a StereoNET Technical Contributor. Mark has over 40 years experience as a recording and mastering engineer, is the founder and director of AIX Media Group, AIX Records and iTrax.com (the first high-resolution audio download site launched in 2007). Waldrep also holds multiple advanced degrees in music, art and computer science.
Contact via email firstname.lastname@example.org
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